Eliminating the category “evil,” not “evil” itself

August 9, 2012

There are certainly acts in this world that result in huge amounts of pain and suffering of others, but I don’t believe there exists an abstract category of “evil” and I do think that we create a problem for ourselves when we insist that there does.

I wrote a comment on the NYTimes website a few days ago, in response to the killings in the Sikh temple, about how once we start labeling people and things as evil, others are free to do likewise according to their own lights, and we are left to defend a border between words and action;  and about how I think that’s a necessarily permeable border, I don’t think we will ever eliminate some people’s crossing it, and I think we do damage to the community in our efforts to eliminate such crossings.

I wrote about how I would rather shift the whole paradigm to one in which we don’t perceive damaging and painful actions, and the people who do them, as evil.  I would eliminate the category, not try to eliminate contents to the abstract notion we have created.

I think this is related to FDR’s statement that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  It’s the idea of it that traps us, traps us in fear and traps us in dualistic thinking, and the two go round and round feeding each other.

God is a whole, there is no devil — only a golem we create or a bogeyman we imagine. God has a dark side, but behind it or within it, however we wish to conceptualize it, there is light.  There is always light, always.

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